Heart Rate Variability
Higher levels of Heart Rate Variability are associated with better health, most likely as it seems to reflect a healthy balance between the two sides of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system readies us for fight or flight whereas the parasympathetic calms us down. When we are stressed we can get stuck with too much stimulation of the sympathetic system. Chinese researchers have recently shown that acupuncture increases Heart Rate Variability. This suggests acupuncture may help regulate the autonomic nervous system and may benefit anxiety, stress, over-training and all round general health.
The Study into acupuncture and Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Chinese scientists have shown that acupuncture at the point Shenmen HE-7 can affect cardiac autonomic neural regulation in healthy subjects. One hundred and twenty subjects were divided into four groups and received four different interventions: verum (real) acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7; non-penetrating sham acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7; verum acupuncture at a sham point; and no acupuncture.
Heart rate variability (HRV), which is a measure of the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic mediators of heart rate, was recorded 10 minutes before, during and after each intervention. The results showed that, compared with sham needling and no acupuncture controls, verum acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7 increased HRV, most likely via stimulation of the the parasympathetic nervous system.